The Metabox P950EP Review and Benchmarks – Gaming Laptop, The Metabox P950EP is a new laptop with 8th gen Intel CPU and Nvidia 1060 graphics from Metabox, an Australian company who specialise in custom laptops, so let’s find out what one of their newest models have to offer.
Metabox P950EP Review
As you can customize the hardware when ordering I’ll first cover the specs of my unit. For the CPU we’ve got Intel’s i7-8750H 6 core CPU which can turbo up to 4.1GHz in single core workloads or 3.9GHz in all core workloads. There’s 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,400MHz in dual channel, but the two slots support up to 32GB at 2,666MHz.
For storage there’s a single M.2 slot which supports NVMe PCIe based storage, in my case it’s populated with a 512GB M.2 SATA SSD. There’s a single 2.5 inch drive bay which is empty here, but you’ve got the option to add in an SSD or hard drive. For the graphics there’s an Nvidia 1060 6GB which powers the 15.6” 1080p 60Hz IPS panel, but it’s also available with 120Hz, 144Hz or 4K options, and we’ll see how this performs soon in the benchmarks.
Finally for the network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, support for 802.11ac WiFi, as well as Bluetooth version 5, but the WiFi card can also be customized. The interior, lid, and base of the laptop are an aluminum alloy so it feels quite sturdy, and they’ve all got the same silver grey matte colour.
The dimensions of the laptop are 38cm in width, 25.2cm in depth, and 1.86cm in height, so it’s on the thinner side for a laptop with these specs. The barebones weight of the laptop is listed as 1.9kg with the battery included, so total weight will depend on the selected components. I found mine to weigh around 2.1kg and when we add the 150 watt power brick and cable for charging the weight increases to just under 2.8kg, so still pretty portable. As mentioned the screen here is a 15.6 inch 60Hz 1080p IPS panel, no G-Sync available here though.
The viewing angles were good, still perfectly clear on all angles with the IPS panel. The panel doesn’t get too bright, but it’s enough for inside use at up to 278 nits at 100% brightness. I’ve also measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 61% of sRGB, 44% of NTSC and 46% of AdobeRGB, so nothing special, definitely fine for gaming and office use but for professional content creation you might want look at a different panel.
I’ve performed my usual backlight bleed test on the display, which involves having the laptop show a black screen in a dark room to help emphasize any bleeding. I then take a long exposure photo to display any bleed, so this is a worst case scenario test. It looked pretty good to my own eyes, only the bottom bit was visible to me on certain angles, however this will of course vary between laptops, and all of these things mentioned with regards to the panel will be completely different if you upgrade to the 120Hz, 144Hz or 4k panels.
The screen was quite sturdy while flexing it thanks to the metallic lid which had its hinges out towards the far corners. It can be opened up quite easily with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution. Above the display in the center is a 1080p camera. It looks pretty good for a laptop camera, way better than most of the others I’ve tested.
The microphone also sounds much better than most others too, but you’ll be able to judge both for yourself. The keyboard has RGB backlighting and can be controlled in three separate zones. The sides of the keys are clear which allows more light to shine through, and there are a few different effects available through the control panel software.
Overall I really liked typing with the keyboard, to me it just felt nice to type with, no problems at all. Here’s how the keys sound to try and give you a little sample of what to expect. There was a little keyboard flex, but I think that’s just because you need to remove the keyboard to take the bottom panel off, the body itself felt quite solid.
The touchpad worked well, it’s got a smooth texture with two physically separated left and right click buttons with a fingerprint scanner in the top left corner. Moving onto the I/O on the left there’s the power input, HDMI port, two mini DisplayPort 1.3 outputs, two USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C ports, no mention of Thunderbolt support, and two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, the last of which is powered. On the right there are separate 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks, a third USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, SD card slot, gigabit ethernet port, and Kensington lock.
The front just has some status LEDs towards the left hand side, while the back has some air vents. Up on the lid there’s the Metabox logo in white in the center, and the pattern just above it lights up white while it’s powered on, I couldn’t find a way of turning it off.
Fingerprints show up fairly easily on both the lid and matte interior, although as a smooth surface I had no problems with cleaning. Underneath there’s heaps of vents for air intake, as well as some rubber feet that did a pretty good job of preventing it from sliding around while in use.
The bottom panel can be removed by using a phillips head screwdriver, and there are some additional screws underneath the keyboard that also need to be removed, so it’s not difficult just an extra step, just be careful of the ribbon cables attaching the keyboard when opening it up. Inside we get access to the single M.2 slot, WiFi card, two memory slots, and 2.5 inch drive bay.
The two speakers are found just below the screen, and they sound a bit tinny with no bass, I’d stick to headphones where possible. Powering the laptop is a 4 cell 55 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 4 hours and 12 minutes, not bad.
The Intel integrated graphics were in use during this test thanks to Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 53 minutes and was able to sustain 30 FPS the entire time, many others I’ve tested aren’t able to do that and drop frame rate.
Overall the battery life was pretty good, more than I expected considering the specs and somewhat thin and light form factor. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 18 degrees celcius, it’s cold here as it’s winter in Australia, so expect warmer temperatures in a warmer environment. It’s also worth keeping in mind that as the CPU and GPU share heatpipes a change in one component may affect the other.
At idle both the CPU and GPU weren’t too warm as shown in light blue, 46 and 38 degrees celsius respectively with the default fan speeds. While playing PUBG at high settings the temperatures rise as shown in the darker blue just above. If we apply a -0.140v undervolt to the CPU the temperatures drop back a bit, as shown in the green, and we’ll see how this affected clock speeds in the next graph.
With no undervolt and just maxing out the fans in yellow we still see a little improvement over stock fans. When combining the CPU undervolt and maxed out fans we see the best temperatures in orange. The full load stress test was tested with Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark running at the same time, and some thermal throttling was present. It was possible to slightly improve the temperatures a bit with the undervolt applied, although max fans don’t seem to make much difference here on the CPU in comparison.
These are the average clock speeds while running the same tests for the temperatures just shown, it wasn’t possible to reach the full 3.9GHz all core turbo clock speed in any of these tests due to thermal throttling. The undervolt does help with this significantly though, much more than increasing the fan speed.
These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. Although the undervolt did improve performance a bit, we’re still not able to reach the full 3.9GHz on all 6 cores. As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle the body of the laptop is sitting in the low 30s.
While gaming this increases to the mid 40s in the center but is warmest on the far left where the heat exhausts, getting into the mid 50s. The results were pretty similar with the CPU and GPU stress tests running, and with the fans maxed out and CPU undervolting applied the temperatures just drop slightly. It wasn’t too bad for the most part while using the keyboard, but you’ll want to avoid touching that part on the left.
As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was only just audible, and while gaming it was a little lower than many other 1060 laptops I’ve tested. The stress test was very similar to gaming, and when we max the fans out it gets about 3 decibels louder. I’ll also note that I didn’t hear any coil whine in my unit.
Metabox P950EP Benchmarks
Finally let’s take a look at some benchmarks, we’ll first cover some real world gaming benchmarks followed by tests with various benchmarking tools. All tests were run at 1080p with the latest Nvidia drivers and Windows updates to date installed.
Fortnite ran perfectly fine even at epic settings, however the results greatly depend on where you are in game and what other players are doing, so take these with a grain of salt.
Overwatch was tested playing with the bots, and again even at epic settings it played great, but again the results will vary based on what’s going on in the game and the particular map for example.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and I found it to run quite well at all setting levels, although like the previous two games results will vary based on what other players are doing. CS:GO was running well in this benchmark, really high averages as expected and even the 1% lows with low settings are at 60 FPS.
I’ve tested Far Cry 5 with the built in benchmark and the results are decent, over 60 FPS averages even at ultra settings.
Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, you’ll get better results than this while actually playing, and even in this intensive test the results are pretty good, so no worries at all playing this game.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark and no issues at all here, even at ultra settings the 1% lows are above the refresh rate of the panel so it should go great.
Battlefield 1 was tested during the first campaign mission, and even at ultra settings it played well and felt smooth, no issues at all here.
Ghost recon is a fairly resource intensive game, and was tested with the built in benchmark. It should work pretty well at around high settings or below. Watchdogs 2 is another resource intensive game, although I don’t think it really needs a high frame rate to play. It was definitely playable at ultra settings, but I think high or lower gave the best experience.
DOOM was tested using Vulkan, and it played great even at ultra settings, as shown by the fairly high average frame rates.
Now onto the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.
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The results in these tests are quite good, the Nvidia 1060 is still a great choice for 1080p gaming at 60 FPS in high settings in many games. You could optionally look at upgrading to the 120Hz or 144Hz panel if your games are able to reach these frame rates, otherwise if you need more graphical power check out the P950ER model which has Nvidia 1070 Max-Q graphics.
As for overclocking, the 8750H CPU can’t be overclocked, but I’ve applied a 200MHz overclock to the 1060, and these are the actual GPU clock speeds we got with the Heaven benchmark running at default and with the overclock applied.
With both CPU undervolting and GPU overclocking applied we see a nice little boost in games, I’ve retested PUBG and we’re getting over a 9% performance increase on average, but this will vary between games.
I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here, and we can see that the new 8th gen coffee lake chip is a decent step up from the 7th generation as we’ve got two extra cores with slightly faster single threaded clock speeds, and we can see there’s a nice boost with the undervolt applied, although as discussed earlier there was still throttling taking place in a CPU only workload, the 8750H should be able to score above 1,200 with no limitations in place.
In Crystal Disk Mark the 512GB M.2 SATA SSD was getting around 550MB/s in sequential reads and 460MB/s on the writes, but it’s worth remembering you can select different drives including NVMe which will change these speeds.
I’ve tested the SD slot with a V90 rated card, so the card itself shouldn’t be a bottleneck, and I think these are the best results I’ve ever seen, really impressive.
As for the price at the time of recording it starts at $1800 AUD, but this will of course vary depending on the customizations that you make. Here in Australia it’s a bit cheaper compared to other laptops with similar specs like the Acer Helios 300 or Dell G5 for instance.
So what did you guys think of the P950EP gaming laptop from Metabox? For the price it’s definitely offering good value here in Australia, especially considering the thin and light form factor, however this does appear to result in a drawback, namely that I wasn’t able to make full use of the 8750H CPU due to throttling, as discussed earlier.
This could be improved with undervolting, and even without that the gaming results were still pretty decent. Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, and leave a share this post to let me know if you found the review useful.